By Bill McRea

Minor pentatonic scales are used extensively in modern and classic rock. A strong understanding of how pentatonic scales work, and can be used for soloing and creating riffs, is extremely important. They are also the easiest and generally the first scales most people learn.

Minor Pentatonic Basics:

I assume you know how to read basic TAB format for this lesson. If you have not been exposed to TAB then you should review our lesson on reading guitar TAB before moving on.

The Minor Pentatonic scale consists of the following intervals: 1 b3 4 5 b7 1. In the key of A the intervals would be the notes of A C D E G A. There are 5 scale shapes in “box” patterns for the pentatonic scales. For the A minor pentatonic the box shape follows:

E|-5-|—|—|-8-|—|
B|-5-|—|—|-8-|—|
G|-5-|—|-7-|—|—|
D|-5-|—|-7-|—|—|
A|-5-|—|-7-|—|—|
E|-5-|—|—|-8-|—|

The 5 is the fifth fret and is the root note, thus the name of the key and scale is A, the intervals determines the type Minor or Major. This scale shape above is the most scale and is used in rock, blues and most styles of music. If you move this entire shape up to positions on the guitar and play the same shape you will have a B minor pentatonic. Likewise if you slide the entire shape down two potions you have a G minor pentatonic. See Below:

E|-3-|—|—|-6-|—|
B|-3-|—|—|-6-|—|
G|-3-|—|-5-|—|—|
D|-3-|—|-5-|—|—|
A|-3-|—|-5-|—|—|
E|-3-|—|—|-6-|—|

Practice this scale shape several times a day, moving it into different positions or keys, for variety. Many of rocks most famous licks are derived form this shape. If you are going to play guitar learning this one basic shape is mandatory.

Next up – The Major Pentatonic Scale.

Bill McRea is the publisher of The
Guitar Warehouse
and Guitar
Playing Techniques
. Both sites offer free lesson and product sales.

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